A comic with a scientist in 4 stages of the scientific method in a circle.

Brief: New Channel Announcement, the OTHER scientific method, Links

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I’ve been making comics with the new generative AI Art software. I put up a video all about it on my new channel for long form video essays. You can check out the whole video on the topic over at PeterAllenWrites (link). I do have concerns about the ethics of AI-generated content, but I can also see the value of AI art for science communication. As an example, I made this comic about the scientific method, as performed in real life.

The way it usually goes is not really hypothesis/experiment/analyze/report. Here’s my silly take on the REAL experience, visualized: realize-a-mistake/plan-a-revision/run-the-experiment/weep. Maybe it amounts to the same thing?

I had fun making that silly thing, but I have reservations. There are certainly unethical ways to use generative-AI. It’s definitely not OK to pass off AI art as something created by a human artist. Even worse, people are forging specific artists’ work. But it can be used for good, I think.

The PeterAllenLab channel will continue to be my vlog where I post mostly science-y things that pique my interest. If you’re here for the iron battery project, I’m afraid I don’t work much on that anymore. I left it in the capable hands of my former graduate student, Dipak. When he publishes his paper, I will definitely link and promote it here.

I have a bunch of things to share.

Brief: The Spirituality of Vaccine & Mask Panics — Conspirituality This was a great episode of a great podcast that looked at why, exactly, people got so weird about being asked to wear a mask. A big fraction of people who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 never showed symptoms, but were still spreading the virus. That should have been front and center information. The incoherent messaging on this was one of many unforced failures of former administration 45 (whose name will not be mentioned). I used to have some hope: If information had been presented better, there would have been less of a fuss about masks. But this piece makes me feel naive for even thinking that. There are some weird, superstitious belief systems at work here.

The Library of Alexandra – This radio program is the history of SciHub and a rare interview with its founder, Alexandra Elbakyan. SciHub was a critical source for scientific papers for people without institutional access (as through a major research university). When I was a professor, my library was not able to provide me with all of the research materials I needed. In some cases, I could not access my own published papers. Sci-hub was illegal, and so I won’t say that I used it, but it did exist. I know that it was in heavy use by students at that university.

How Christian Is Christian Nationalism? – This New Yorker piece examines how Christianity in America is often an identity or “heritage” rather than a moral/spiritual practice. Christian nationalism is dangerous. It has very little to do with kindness, forgiveness, and brotherly love. It has a lot to do with being a member of a certain in-group: white, prudish, pious (in public), patriotic (in public), and affluent.

‘You Must Believe You Can Repair It’ – A tale of an ancient RV and a family who restore it and live in it. The theme is this: anything that is worth repairing can be repaired. I’ve worked on some antique vehicles before, and I am impressed by the gumption of someone who lives in one.

The Culture War: Iain M. Banks’s Billionaire Fans – Blood Knife – The Culture is a thought experiment in post scarcity. It seem that some people forget what scarcity feels like, and those people love the Culture stories. On one hand, that does not surprise me, and even makes sense. On the other hand, it sure seems like luxury space communism might feel threatening to someone who benefits from extreme inequality.

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson – This was an impressively hopeful book. There’s a quote that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. This book does not go so far as an end of capitalism or the end of the world, but it comes close to both. Three things happen in this book that are more likely by the day: 1. A heatwave kills a million people; 2. Widespread eco-terrorism and sabotage; 3. Central banks take climate change seriously as a threat to the whole economic system and act on that understanding.

The comic was written and created by Peter Allen with MidJourney and shared under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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